National Library of Australia

Proposals for revision of RDA

The Australian Committee on Cataloguing (ACOC) is one of the constituent organisations represented on the Joint Steering Committee for the Development of RDA (JSC) that is responsible for developing and maintaining RDA : Resource Description and Access. Within Australia, all proposals for corrections, additions and changes to RDA must be channelled through ACOC. 

Current JSC proposals and responses

Current proposals before JSC and constituency responses, including ACOC responses, are available on the JSC website.

Who can submit a proposal or discussion paper?

Anyone is welcome to submit an RDA revision proposal or discussion paper to ACOC. However, potential proposers should be aware that there is a formal process for revising RDA that can take up to a year or more because of the necessity for widespread consultation on any changes to RDA. Each revision proposal goes through a lengthy review process from the national to the international level.

How to submit a proposal or discussion paper

You should first check the list of constituency proposals and discussion papers on the JSC website to verify that a proposal or discussion paper has not already been submitted for the problem that you have identified. You should then discuss your idea or issue with colleagues in the cataloguing community in order to determine whether the problem you have identified is a shared concern. Keep in mind that changes to RDA can have cost implications in terms of training cataloguers, system infrastructure, record formats, etc.

The next step is to contact a member of ACOC to discuss your idea or issue. Discussion with the ACOC representative may reveal other issues or another way of addressing the problem. In addition, it may be that your issue can be dealt with through the Fast Track process instead of the lengthier formal proposal process.

How to prepare a proposal or discussion paper

A proposal should be prepared if you are making specific recommendations for revision of RDA instructions. A discussion paper is prepared if there are issues to be raised but specific recommendations for revisions are not yet formulated.

All proposals and discussion papers must be in harmony with the Statement of Objectives and Principles for RDA (

The proposal or discussion paper should be in the form of a dated memorandum to ACOC that clearly indicates the name and organisational affiliation of the proposer. The subject or title field of the memorandum should indicate the nature of the proposal or discussion paper and, where applicable, the instruction numbers that are the principal focus of the proposed revision and the captions associated with those instructions. If you are aware that your proposal or discussion paper has implications for the RDA element set ( this should also be noted.


To: Australian Committee on Cataloguing

From: <proposer’s name, title and organisation>

Subject: Proposed revision to RDA,<instruction number and caption>

The memorandum should begin with a clear explanation of the problem that the proposal or discussion paper aims to address. In the case of a proposal it should also include justification for making the proposed change to RDA along with an assessment of the impact of the proposed change. Any related changes that would be required for other instructions in RDA should also be indicated and explained.

A proposal should also depict the proposed revision in terms of actual changes to the current text of RDA. The text of proposed revision should be provided in two versions: one using strikethrough to indicate deletions and double-underlining to indicate additions to the current text, and one showing a clean version of the proposed text. Draft changes to the text of RDA must conform to the RDA Editor’s Guide and its three appendices:

Multi-page documents should have a date and page number in the form ‘page x of y’ in the upper right hand corner of each page.

Where to submit a proposal or discussion paper

Revision proposals and discussion papers should be sent to one of the members of ACOC. Proposals should be submitted in Microsoft Word format.

What happens after the proposal or discussion paper is submitted to ACOC?

ACOC will review and evaluate the proposal or discussion paper. A range of criteria are used to evaluate a proposal, such as:

  • Is the proposed revision necessary and appropriate or is it a matter that is better handled by local interpretations, manuals or RDA workflows?
  • Does the proposal or discussion paper deal with a problem that is frequent or widespread enough to warrant specific mention in the cataloguing instructions?
  • Does the proposed revision clarify the text of RDA or remove inconsistencies in application of the cataloguing instructions?
  • Is the proposed revision consistent with the general principles of RDA and with other areas of its text?
  • Would acceptance of the proposed revision require additional changes elsewhere in the text of RDA and would those other changes be acceptable?
  • What impact would the proposed revision have on the cataloguing community? Would it require changes to existing cataloguing records? What are the implications for cataloguing systems and the encoding formats?

If ACOC decides to sponsor a revision proposal or discussion paper, it will be formally submitted to the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. The JSC members will then consult their own constituencies about the revision proposal or discussion paper . RDA development is a consensus process, so the proposal may be returned for further work if all the JSC constituents do not either accept or reject the proposal. In the case of discussion papers, the JSC may request that further investigation is done by the author or that a formal revision proposal is submitted.

Further information about the revision process for JSC is available on the JSC website